Brú na Bóinne

After uploading my blog post yesterday, we decided to go out for dinner and some music. We walked down over the Ha’penny Bridge:

And through Merchant’s Arch:

And into Temple Bar, where we had a nice meal with some nice live music at The Old Storehouse. We arrived at just the right time, because we got what seemed to be the last table in the place, very near the music, and by the time we left, there was a line-up down the stairs and out the door.

Today, our last full day in Ireland, was our Newgrange tour. We’d really been looking forward to this, and it turned out even better than I had hoped.

First stop was the Hill of Tara. I know I’ve posted a fair number of pictures of the hill on previous trips, but here’s some more.

I’ve been to Tara a few times, but this is the only time we were allowed close enough to the Mound of Hostages to get a look inside, even if we couldn’t go in.

After that, it was down to the Brú na Bóinne visitor centre for our Newgrange visit. Again, I’ve posted a lot of pictures of Newgrange before, but I was there, so I took some more. I did get an actual clear, peopleless shot of the entry and the entry stone for the first time.

So, the best thing about the tour?


Knowth is another passage tomb nearby that I’ve wanted to see since I first heard about it. It’s bigger than Newgrange, and has had less reconstruction done on it. It is also a cluster of mounds, with a large central mound and nineteen satellite mounds. And it’s got a LOT more decorated kerb stones.

So, I was super-excited and took a lot of pictures. Here’s some of them.

So. That was an awesome tour for our final day.

Tomorrow, we fly home. I’m not looking forward to the long travel day, but I am looking forward to being home. This has been a great trip, but I’m tired, and I miss my own bed.

Slán leat, Ireland!

Dublin Collection

So, we’ve been in Dublin the past couple of days, but I haven’t blogged. This has been because I’ve been tired, or out late, or my iPad didn’t charge properly. Anyway, because of this, my mom called me this morning from Canada to make sure I wasn’t dead.

Not dead yet, Mom.

And to prevent rumours of my demise, I figure I better post some stuff about my time in Dublin.

O’Connell Street, looking past the Spire at the GPO.

Here are some pictures from Christchurch Cathedral:

St. Audoen’s Church, the oldest continuously operating parish church in Dublin. These are the ruins beside the working church. If you look carefully, you may spot a wild Penny in the left foreground.

Dublin’s Garden of Remebrance.

Some pictures from the National Museum of Archaeology:

After spending this morning at the museum, we wandered down to Grafton Street for a little bit of shopping and lunch, and then headed over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, stopping along the way for some Murphy’s Ice Cream.

I didn’t take many pictures at St. Patricks, because I already had a bunch from previous visits. But here are a couple.

Now, we’re resting up in our room. The concierge here gave us directions to a place that does live music earlier in the evening, so we’re probably going to walk over there for dinner in a little while.

And tomorrow – our last full day in Ireland – we’re off to Newgrange and the Hill of Tara.

Coastal Tour

Today we went on a bus tour of the Antrim Coast. I’d been on tours of the area a couple of times before, but there were some changes this time.

Anyway, first stop was Carrickfergus Castle and harbour.

The next stop was Carrick-a=Rede, with the rope bridge you can cross to a little island. But during the pandemic, the folks there laid off all the staff and didn’t pay them any furlough wages, so they decided not to come back when the site reopened. That means that there aren’t enough staff to handle tour buses, though apparently private cars are allowed.

Instead, we stopped at a viewing site, where we could look out across the North Atlantic at the rope bridge. But the fog was very thick, so we couldn’t see it. Instead, here’s a picture of a tree at the end of the world.

Next stop was the Dark Hedges, which I hadn’t visited before.

The trip to our next stop was… lengthy. It seemed all the highways we tried to travel on was obstructed by construction or heavy equipment or delivery trucks parked inconveniently.

But we made it.

I have no idea who any of those people are, but I wanted a picture of the sign.

Our final stop was the Giant’s Causeway. I’ve already got a bunch of pictures of the Causeway on this blog, so here are just a couple more.

Back to Belfast, after that. This is our last night in Northern Ireland – tomorrow, take the train down to Dublin for the final few days of our trip.

It’s been fun.

Day Trip

Penny and I watched Derry Girls during the pandemic. And, on my first trip to Ireland, I visited Derry/Londonderry, and thought it was a great city. So, today, we took the train from Belfast to Derry for the day.

I’ve got a number of pictures on the blog from my first trip, so I didn’t take a lot of pictures today. We went on a really great walking tour that went around the walls and gave use a really good overview of the history of the city, wandered around looking at stuff, and visited the Guildhall and the Tower Museum. Here are some pictures I did take:

After that, we walked back to the station, caught the train back to Belfast, and had some dinner.

Tomorrow is our tour of the Antrim Coast.

Belfast Down Day

Yesterday was another travel day – Kilkenny to Dublin to Belfast.The plasce we’re staying in Belfast is an AirBnB flat, just outside of the city centre. After getting settled, we went for a ramble around the neighbourhood to see where things were. We made our way down to the Cty Hall, and looked around to find a place to have dinner.

We ate at a restaurant called Hell Cat Maggie’s, then walked back to the flat. That evening, we decided to schedule a bus tour out to the Antrim coast for Monday, and a train ride to Derry/Londonderry for Sunday. Today, the plan was to ride the hop-on-hop-off bus in the morning, then Penny had an appointment for a tattoo in the afternoon.

But this morning, we were tired, and kinda done with tours for a bit. Instead, we walked down to the George Street Market, which was an awesome place full of food vendors and crafts and art and everything.

And, at one of the stalls, I found my souvenir ring for this trip.

After we had some lunch there, we went wandering down by the river and saw some of the memorable things I’ve seen before in Belfast, like:

The Big Fish. The area around it was much more park-like and friendly than the last time I was here.

Some seal statues that weren’t here on my last visit.

The Custom House steps, with it’s statue declaring that this used to be Speaker’s Square, where folks would come and orate or rant or whatever.

The Alber Clock. There used to be some cool fountains in front of it, but they’re not there anymore.

After that, Penny went to her tattoo appointment and I went back to the flat to do some laundry and this blog post. Later, we’ll head out for some dinner. And tomorrow, it’s the train to Derry/Londonderry.

Which should be cool.

More Kilkenny and also Waterford

So, I didn’t post anything on the blog yesterday, and it’s these guys’ fault:

They were three generations of the same family, grandfather, father, and son, and they were playing music in the Hibernian last night. Penny and I lingered over dinner and dessert and drinks to listen to them. Also chatted with a friendly couple from Dublin. It wound up being a later night than we had planned, and I was too tired to blog.

Earlier in the day, we took a walking tour with this fine gentleman dressed as William Marshall, one of the key figures in medieval Kilkenny.

He was fantastic. Knowledgeable, fun, and actively excited about the information he was sharing. It was one of the best tours I’ve been on.

After that, we went wandering on our own, mainly visiting the various churches and cathedrals in Kilkenny. Here are some pictures:

After that, of course, was dinner and music and a late night.

We were up fairly early this morning and took the train to Waterford for the day. We took a walking tour around the city, then wandered and shopped and ate and generally killed time until it was time to take the train back.

And again, here are some pictures:

We also went to the Irish Wake Museum, which was kinda cool, but it was mainly multimedia presentations about the changing rituals of death in Ireland over the years, so not a lot of good picture opportunities.

Then, in the end, it was back on the train to Kilkenny.

We’ve got an early train out of the city tomorrow, moving on to Belfast for the next leg of our vacation.

So, oiche mhaith agaibh!

Wandering Kilkenny

Got off to a bit of a slow start today. I’m fighting the start of a cold – thanks, rainy Gap of Dunloe and Lakes of Killarney – so it took me a while to get mobile. Once I did, I went for a bit of a walk to loosen the joints up, and then Penny and I did something that I hadn’t done in Kilkenny on my previous visits.

We took a boat tour.

It went u0 and down the River Nore, past the castle and under some bridges. The boatman was a nice Portuguese gentleman who had just started working on the boats after a winter off, and hadn’t quite got the history spiel down again. But he was friendly and fun and it was a great tour. Some sights:

After that, we went for lunch, and then went on a tour of the castle.

On my last visit, they didn’t allow any photographs inside the castle, but this time, photos were okay, as long as there was no flash. So… photos!

I took many more pictures in the castle, but these are the most interesting, in my opinion. And it’s my blog, so that’s the only opinion that counts.

After that, I was kind of dragging, so I went back to the hotel room to lie down for a bit, while Penny went off exploring. Later that evening, we decided to try for dinner at Kyteler’s Inn, because witches and live music.

Along the way, we noticed that the sign was out showing that the Hole in the Wall was open. This is a pub established in 1582. It was also a brothel. I’ve been told that the Duke of Wellington drank there. I visited it on my first trip to Kilkenny, when it was a little coffee shop. But tonight, it was a full-on (if tiny) pub.

The friendly barman even took a picture of Penny and I, proving we were there.

We didn’t manage to get a table at Kyteler’s Inn, so we went across the street and had a nice meal, and then took a bit of a walk down to see the way to St. Cannice’s Cathedral. We’ve got a walking tour tomorrow morning, so we should get a closer look, but it was a nice night for a walk.

And that’s it for today.


The weather today was a little rainy from time to time, but nothing like yesterday. Plus, we spent the bulk of the day on the bus, on our tour of the Dingle Peninsula. After yesterday’s fun-but-somewhat-grueling tour, it was a welcome respite.

The tour started with a quick photo stop at Aghadoe, which has a great view of the lakes of Killarney.

From there, we drove on to Inch Beach, which is a sandbar in the bay. Even with the scattered rain and the cool temperatures and the wind, it was fairly busy, even if there aren’t many people in my picture.

We stopped at a farm along the way where, for four Euros, you could go see the beehive hits in the field and/or hold a baby lamb. My parents raised sheep for a while, so the lamb held no real appeal for me. But prehistoric stone buildings?

From there, it was onto the Slea Head drive. Here’s a photodump of spectacular scenery.

Then it was back to Dingle town for lunch and a little bit of looking around the town. I learned that Fungie, the famous friendly dolphin who liked to meet with people in boats in the harbour, is gone, now. Last seen early in the pandemic. He’d be over forty years old by now, which is not that old for a dolphin, but he’s stopped meeting his fishermen friends.

Apparently, he used to toss pollock onto the boats. Not salmon, though. Those he ate.

Anyway, there’s still a statue near the harbour of him.

And now, we’re back in Killarney, thinking about dinner. It was a late lunch, so we’re not in a terrible rush.

Tomorrow is another travel day, on the trains from Killarney to Kilkenny. It looks like we have to go back through Dublin to make the connection, which is not ideal, but what can you do.

A Gap in the Weather

Today, in Killarney, it is rainy and somewhat windy.

Also today, in Killarney, Penny and I took a trip up through the Gap of Dunloe and down the lakes of Killarney.

I’d done the tour six years ago, and came back badly sunburned. Looking at the weather forecast, I figured there was almost no chance of that happening again. The lovely Toni, who owns the place we’re staying and who had booked the tour for us (at our request) kept checking with us to make sure we had seen the forecast and still wanted to go.

Our thinking was that, sure, good weather for the tour is better than rain, but rain on the tour is better than not going at all.

Reader, there was rain.

The bus took us to Kate Kearney’s Cottage, which is the start of the road up the Gap. I believe it’s named for a woman who used to brew and sell poitín – Irish moonshine – there. From there, you can take a horse buggy ride up through the Gap, or you can walk. Penny, having done the Camino last year and tramped over the Pyrenees, decided to walk.

I took a cart ride.

The horse for our cart, on the left, was somewhat… willful when it came time to put him in harness. The dialect of the drivers here in the mountains of Kerry is pretty thick, and it’s hard to follow what they say when they don’t deliberately slow it down to speak to tourists, but I discovered that certain short words of Anglo-Saxon origin came through quite clearly as these two gentlemen were working with the fractious horse.

Once he was in harness, he was all business, and eager to show off. We passed another of the other buggies going up, and made the trip pretty quickly.

Not many pictures of the trip, because it was cold and rainy and really, really windy. But here’s a few:

So, I made it through the Gap to Lord Brandon’s Cottage about an hour before Penny did on foot. I had a sandwich and rested a bit – at the steepest part of the Gap, we had to get off the cart and walk, to give the horse a bit of a break. According to my smart watch, I climbed 62 flights of stairs on that little walk.

And then it was down to the boars and back to Ross Castle. No pictures of that leg, because it was raining even harder by then, and the wind was a little vicious, and my camera was under three layers of wet clothes by then.

But we made it back alive, if somewhat chilled. Right now, we are in our room, having changed into dry clothes and warmed up some, and will be thinking about going to find some dinner in a little bit.

Tomorrow, we have a tour of the Dingle Peninsula. It’s also supposed to be rainy tomorrow, but not as much. Also, more bus, less boat on this tour.

Cill Airne

I didn’t post on the blog yesterday, because we spent the day taking the train from Galway to Killarney.It all looked kinda liked this:

We got into Killarney in the mid-afternoon, and went to my favourite place to stay in all of Ireland – Larkinley Guest Accommodations. We got a warm greeting from Toni, and she took us to a laundromat to get the laundry done that we completely failed to do in Galway.

She also made some recommendations for tours and restaurants, and offered to book us on the tours we wanted to take. After we settled into the room, we walked down to the town centre to scout it out, get some dinner, and pick up some groceries. Then, back to Larkinley for the night.

This morning, we got on the Red Bus, which gives a hop-on-hop-off tour of some of the main sites in the Killarney National Park.

Ross Castle is a favourite of mine. We got off here, and took a boat out to Innisfallen, another of my favourite spots, where there’s the ruins of a twelfth-century monastery.

Here’s a view off the back of Innisfallen, looking out across Lough Leanne at the mountains.

This is a section of the monastery wall with a big ol’ yew tree beside it.

A cool looking doorway in the wall, looking out at a different yew tree.

After we got back to the castle, we got back on the bus and went to see Torc Waterfall. It drains the water from a spring, called The Devil’s Punchbowl. The story is that the devil was so angry with the Abbott building an abbey in the area, he bit a piece out of the mountain and spat it at the Abbott, who was fishing in Lough Leane. The devil missed him, of course, but the piece of the mountain landed in the lake and became The Deviul’s Island. And the bite mark in the mountain filled up with water which flows down through the Torc Waterfall.

It’s not a huge waterfall, but it is very photogenic.

After that, we crossed the road and took a ride in a horse cart along the lakes to Muckross Abbey.

A view of Muckross Lake. Muck is Irish for pig, and Ross is Irish for peninsula. Apparently, the area used to have a lot of wild pigs there.

After the abbey, the cart took us back to Muckross House, which was closed for renovations. So, we walked around the gardens, had a bite to eat in the tea room, and caught the bus back to Killarney.

Now, we’ve had dinner, heard a little bit of live music, and are settled in for the night. Tomorrow is our tour up the Gap of Dunloe.

Apparently, there’s going to be rain.